It is my intention to always be honest with those that take an interest in my writing. For the most part, the only thing I believe I am good at in the world of writing is my gift of telling a great story. You might say, “Well that all any good author is, a good story teller.” Wrong! If you want to get published. If you want an agent and publisher to take you serious, you have to be many things, things I’m not.
For example: I am terrible at spelling. In my early years I joked around and would say (paraphrasing Mark Twain) It’s a poor, unimaginative mind that can think of but one way to spell a word” In my other life (career) spelling wasn’t nearly as important as math so I slacked off in that area.
When I decided to write, I discovered my new best friend, the “spell checker”. Time after time I would make the same mistakes. I would change tense in the sentences. I would make so many mistakes, no one but my wife would want to read my work.
The query is your “first impression” to any agent you may want. There are rules to follow. Each agent has their own set of rules that you need to learn regarding your submission. The first thing you need to explore is how Agent A submission requirements differ from Agent B. The information is not difficult to discover, but critical.
Now, you know the rules and you decide to submit. What’s next?
This is the fun part. I know how much fun it is because I had close to a hundred rejections before I got my first yes. I know the mistakes. I’ve made them. Please remember this, THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU. That’s not me trying to be cute. It’s the truth. You are not yet a client and they have way too much to do to worry about hurting your feelings. The odds are, you are going to get rejected. Get over it. The no’s don’t mean anything. Its the yes you want.
The story: When you do a query, tell your story in two paragraphs. They want to read something that sizzles. They want to see something that isn’t the same old crap they get day after day. Stand out and make what you write something they have to see more of.
Spelling/Grammar: Whatever you decide to say, say it right. Again…first impression. I have read horror stories from agents who get queries in manners that would make your skin crawl. They are looking for professionals. The want authors who know what it takes to succeed. Even if you don’t know what that means, fake it. They don’t know that you are writing in your underwear (or worse). They don’t need to know any of your bad habits or that you cuss like a drunken sailor. (Apologies to all drunken sailors reading this.) What they need to believe is that when they get your query, they see the Robert Redford or Betty Gable (really big name movie stars for you youngins) of the writing world.
Ego Check: Here’s the really hard part. Keep your ego’s in check. Okay, you tell a great story. You have excellent editing skills. You are the greatest thing since sliced bread. For some reason those stupid agents just don’t get what you are doing. I know how you feel. When you are good as I am, it’s hard to be humble. On the other hand, if they don’t like what you are sending them, as stupid as that may be, you need to get someone else’s opinion. Get the dang thing checked out by someone else. Someone that won’t kiss your butt by the way. If they can’t be honest, they are worthless. Find someone that will piss you off if you can find one. That person has to have mad skills in editing and integrity. If they don’t like something you’ve written, fix it, change it, get off you high horse and think about the fact that someone other than you might have a good idea too. Being different doesn’t mean being wrong. Their difference may just be the difference between getting rejected and getting to the next step.
If any of this helps, please let me know,